Based on archaeological evidence, chestnuts, or kuri, have been cultivated in Japan for over 5,000 years. More than just a food, they have had an important influence on Japan’s culture and the way Japanese people view nature, being mentioned often in traditional Japanese folklore. They also turn up frequently in haiku set during the autumn, and were a common subject of poets such as Shiki Masaoka. Today, they remain one of the few foods that are only available seasonally, being harvested in the autumn and enjoyed as the weather gets colder. Chestnuts can be boiled to remove their hard shells, after which they are used as ingredients in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes. They can also be roasted over a fire, and throughout the winter one can find outdoor stalls selling freshly roasted nuts.

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